Skip to main content

The Black Family

Everybody Hates Chris (cover of DVD)

Everybody Hates Chris

Everybody Hates Chris is a comedic television show based on the childhood of actor and comedian Chris Rock. The show is set between 1982-1987 even though it aired during the 2000s. The main niche of the show is that a lot of things did not go right in Rock’s childhood, as whenever he had an idea or something was going for him, it always ended up blowing up in his face. He also deals with a seemingly unpleasant home life and is harassed in an all white school. No matter what happened, however, his family always cared and was with him in the end.

This show relates to the Black family with the setting of 1980’s Brooklyn growing up on the block with a lower class black family. Struggles are depicted in the show not only with the dad working multiple jobs to make ends meet, but also in the kids, working hard to reach their goals, more notably with Chris as his parents sent Chris to an all white school in order to receive a better education and eventually a better life. Chris would constantly be reminded why his father works hard and what he has to do, pressuring him about grades and activities in school.

The women characters work in this show do reinforce the stereotypes of black women. The mother, Rochelle, is a sassy strong woman who everyone fears in some way. She is always shown yelling, as she is quick to lose her temper. She essentially runs the family as she lectures her kids and her husband while taking care of them by doing the shopping and the cooking. Though she is firm, she is also fair as she shows her sensitive side for how she cares about the family in times when a talk is needed, though she quickly goes back to her sassy self. For entertainment, she is found working at the salon gossiping with her friends. Chris’s sister Tonya is the innocent princess of the family. The Father, Julius, always does what he can to make her happy, doing things like participating in her tea parties and buying her gifts. Whenever trouble comes up, Tonya is always overlooked as no one seems to think she could be capable of committing the act.

Cosby Show DVD cover (group F)

The Cosby Show

The Cosby Show is a television show starring Bill Cosby, and his upper middle class African American family. The show lasted 8 seasons; this was because of the show's willingness to feature sensitive topics, and the likeability of each character. The show featured Dr. Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby), his wife and lawyer Clair Hanks Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad). They live in their Brooklyn brownstone with their four children: Rudy, Theo, Vanessa, and Denise. In describing the show, IMDB describes it as, “The goings-on in the life of a successful African American family”.

As an African American family, I feel the Huxtable family only represents a small portion of the population. The show was praised for breaking down racial barriers by making a show featuring a successful African American family. However, this is not representative of the African American community as a whole. Because of this, The Cosby Show becomes a standard for African American family’s to strive for. Becoming a doctor or lawyer and raising four beautiful children in a brownstone townhouse has become the standard for “making it” as a black family because of The Cosby Show.

Just as the Huxtable family is a model for African American families, wife Clair Hanks Huxtable become the ideal wife and female. Her occupation is a lawyer,  and at the time, seeing a Black women in a high power position, even on a television show, was very inspiring for many women. In addition, she was able to balance responsibilities of work, as well as being a mother and raising four children. For this reason, she is the model for not just black women, but all women. For a mother to be able to manage, almost perfectly, raising her children, while also being in a high power position in the community, gives motivation for what women, and specifically African American women can achieve in this country. 

Beyond Beauty (Serena & Venus Williams ) p130 (group F)

Venus (left) and Serena (right) Williams

Serena and Venus Williams are professional tennis players who were raised in Compton, California. From a very early age, parents Richard and Oracene Williams molded their two youngest daughters into world champion tennis players. Their father chose to raise them in Compton because he wanted to motivate his daughters by seeing what can happen if you don’t work hard. Both sisters have reached number one in the women’s world tennis rankings, and both have four gold medals. The two have also combined for 28 singles Grand Slams (as of December 2015), and 13 doubles Grand Slams in which they were partners. Both of these women are considered among the greatest female tennis players of all time.

The Williams sisters are a great representation of the black family because of the fact they are sisters who were trained by their parents. For some people, the Williams family played in to the stereotypes of the black family. They lived in Compton California, and had 5 children. However, their family also defies many conventions as to what society thinks the black family is supposed to be. Convinced tennis was the path to a better life for Venus and Serena, they were both homeschooled to focus on their craft. During the sisters' climb to the top, they faced discrimination from the white community from junior tennis all the way to the top level. Fighting discrimination all the way to the top of the tennis world, the family became an example and inspiration for other African American families across the country.

Being women, the sisters are models for black women within the African American community. They show that anything can be accomplished despite race or gender if you are fearless and determined. it is important to have inspirational black women like Serena and Venus because they break the mold for what society feels are women’s roles, and specifically roles of African American women. 

"Single Ladies" by Beyonce

Beyonce Knowles-Carter is a well-known actress and singer-songwriter in America. She started her career in the successful girl group Destiny’s Child and later launched a solo career. Beyonce has won 20 Grammy Awards (as of December 2015) and is the most nominated woman in the history of the Grammy Awards.

Beyonce married famous rapper Jay Z on April 4, 2008. Together the couple has been known as a “power couple” in the music industry performing songs together and even having a world tour together. The couple had a miscarriage earlier in their marriage. This brought Beyonce into a depression that she later bounced back from with the help of her mother. Beyonce later became pregnant again and gave birth to their daughter Blue Ivy Carter who became the youngest person to ever be on the Billboard chart when father Jay Z added tracks of her cries into his song "Glory".

Beyonce is known for being a strong female figure that has a reputation for independence. In her marriage to Jay Z, she has continued to make a role for herself personally in the industry. Though Beyonce loves her family, she also loves to perform through her career. Beyonce is a strong mother and wife. Her own mother was her source of comfort in her time of struggle with her miscarriage. It does say something, howerver, that Beyonce did not publicly discuss her depression until she had passed that time in her life. She feared that the public would not take her mental illness seriously or think that she was complaining.

La Toya: Growing up in the Jackson Family, excerpt (group 6) La Toya: Growing up in the Jackson Family, excerpt (group 6)

The Jackson family started out in a small house in Gary, Indiana. Their mother, Katherine, was a stay-at-home mother raising all nine of the children while Joe worked as a crane operator. Their fame started in 1964 when Tito was caught playing his father’s guitar. When his father bought him his own, his brothers began to show an interest in singing. They began winning talent shows as a group in the late 1960s and early 1970s, where they then became a part of Motown.

When her children were on the rise as the Jackson Five, Katherine became their costume designer for their shows to continue supporting them in whatever way she could. During all of this success, Michael later admitted that their father would abuse them if they were to make mistakes in their song and dance routines. It seems that their father as stressing too hard that they have success so they could get out of the meager life they had for fame and fortune, and he didn’t really look out for them as much as he should have.

They were massively successful during this time, with seven top ten singles in the span of two years. Their record label began taking advantage of the “Jacksonmania” by selling many different products including coloring books, stickers, posters, and even a cartoon series.

To continue to capitalize on their sales, Motown then launched Michael’s solo career. Michael’s solo career undermined much of the other family member’s contributions to music, including Janet and La Toya. La Toya became the first of the sisters to obtain a gold record, but all nine performing siblings have received at least one.

Janet became subject of controversy in the 2004 Super Bowl performance she had with co star Justin Timberlake. La Toya had some controversy of her own when in 1989 she posed topless for Playboy magazine. This is when she became somewhat estranged from her family.

After Michael’s death in 2009, his mother took his three kids under her care and is raising them in California.

photos of Obama in New York Times Magazine (group F)

The Obama Family

The Obamas are an African American Family in the upper class as the father of the family is the president of the United States. The entire family is Barack, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha. Ever since elected in 2008, the Obama family has been in the eyes of the media as the parents have worked on different projects. They show to have a loving and respectable household

The family shows the ideology of black families in a different light. We see the family attending dinners and political rallies. Barack received a different education than the average African American allowing him to be certified to run for president.

As for the women of the family, Michelle isn’t a common housewife. Outside the home Michelle is an activist in women’s education, healthy living and several other movements, launching “Let’s Move!” in 2010 to address childhood obesity, “Joining Forces” in 2011 to support veterans, “Reach Higher” in 2014 to inspire people to finish their education, and “Let Girls Learn” in 2015 to help girls attend and stay in school. Though she admits that above all else, she is Malia and Sasha’s mother first. The daughters of the family seem to be set as impressions of Barack and Michelle themselves as they Malia as the oldest daughter is dubbed a “good example of a girl (17)” as she is compared to Kylie Jenner on appropriateness in the media. Nevertheless, the girls try to live average lives, going to school and hanging with friends. Malia has trouble as the president’s daughter because she is in a well known family, she has had allegations spread about her in the media. To Obama and Michelle, they are their world and they would do anything for their daughters.